Relationships among in-situ stress, fractures and faults, and fluid flow: Monterey formation, Santa Maria Basin, California

Thomas Finkbeiner*, Colleen A. Barton, Mark D. Zoback

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations


We used borehole televiewer (BHTV) data from four wells within the onshore and offshore Santa Maria basin, California, to investigate the relationships among fracture distribution, orientation, and variation with depth and in-situ stress. Our analysis of stress-induced well-bore breakouts shows a uniform northeast maximum horizontal stress (SH max) orientation in each well. This direction is consistent with the SH max direction determined from well-bore breakouts in other wells in this region, the northwest trend of active fold axes, and kinematic inversion of nearby earthquake focal plane mechanisms. In contrast to the uniformity of the stress field, fracture orientation, dip, and frequency vary considerably from well to well and within each well. With depth, fractures can be divided into distinct subsets on the basis of fracture frequency and orientation, which correlate with changes of lithology and physical properties. Although factors such as tectonic history, diagenesis, and structural variations obviously have influenced fracture distribution, integration of the in-situ stress and fracture data sets indicates that many of the fractures, faults, and bedding planes are active, small-scale strike-slip and reverse faults in the current northeast-trending transpressive stress field. In fact, we observed local breakout rotations in the wells, providing kinematic evidence for recent shear motion along fracture and bedding-parallel planes. Only in the onshore well do steeply dipping fractures strike parallel to SHmax. Drill-stem tests from two of the offshore wells indicate that formation permeability is greatly enhanced in sections of the wells where fractures are favorably oriented for shear failure in the modern stress field. Thus, relatively small-scale active faults provide important conduits along which fluids migrate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1975-1999
Number of pages25
JournalAAPG Bulletin
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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